Warning: This episode may contain spoilers for this episode and previous episodes of The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.

“Ascent” seems to build off of the previous episode of American Crime Story, using similar characters to help build more backstory on Andrew Cunanan’s life. Versace’s illness begins to weaken him as he eventually suffers from hearing loss. Donatella struggles with taking over the Versace company. Andrew struggles to make a name for himself in the escort business and decides to go rogue. The first spark between Andrew and David is revealed.

Like the previous episodes, this episode is full of backstory on the Versace family along with Andrew’s story. Donatella grows envious of her brother and is nervous about taking over the company. Gianni is easily able to come up with new designs and ideas for clothes. Donatella doesn’t have this gift and attempts to persuade Gianni that she is not ready for the responsibility and their relationship struggles for a while because of this.

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Andrew and his mother are struggling financially to make ends meet. He attempts to join the escort business and struggles because of his Asian-American heritage. He decides to work his way into the social hierarchy by attracting the attention of older wealthy men. He meets both Norman and David along the way and his love for David begins to form.

Gianni and Donatella argue over a new design idea that he has when suddenly, he goes deaf. He begins screaming frantically and Donatella comforts him while they call an ambulance. It turns out that Gianni has ear cancer and the future of Versace is left to Donatella. She approaches this new challenge head-on.

This episode is able to reveal how Andrew made his way into the hearts of many men. He keeps this all a secret from his delusional mother. He has never killed at this point but witnesses a murder of one of his friends and is left in shock. There is true fear on his face and this can be linked to Andrew’s future killings. Norman truly becomes interested in Andrew and the two build a house in California which we saw in episode six. It also becomes clear how Andrew and David met after an incident at a bar. Andrew is sitting with a group of wealthy people when he spots David sitting alone at the bar. He buys him a drink and the two later have sex in a hotel room. David reveals a little background on his dreams as an architect while Andrew stares longingly into his eyes.

The acting is as good as ever, especially during the scene between Andrew and his mother. Andrew is seen packing to go live with Norman when his mom decides to come with him. The two get into an argument and he pushes her into the wall, fracturing her shoulder bone. Andrew stares at her in shock and later cries when they go to the hospital. His mom lies about what happened to protect Andrew. This is very touching and a good representation of the relationship between the two.

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Gianni and Donatella’s interactions in the episode is a tearjerker. Gianni is slowly inching towards his death while Donatella prepares herself. Donatella wishes to help him, but Gianni often gets angry at her. Antonio eventually steps in to tell Gianni to calm down. The scene where Gianni goes deaf is very sad and is done very well. Gianni repeatedly says, “I can’t hear anything! I can’t hear anything!” which is very hard to watch. Donatella fights back tears when she approaches the workers to break the news.

The emotional appeal in this episode was gripping. There were several different scenes that were disheartening and difficult to watch. Andrew’s selfishness gets in the way and he leaves his mother to be alone. His mom loves him so much that she makes excuses for his erratic behavior. This episode isn’t all sad, however, as the love Andrew feels for David begins to grow. Andrew’s manipulative behavior becomes very clear as he is easily able to persuade anyone of anything.

Featured image from Laughing Place

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